Eurozone should drop failing countries says De Jager

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Countries which in future fail or refuse to meet the requirements of the eurozone's stability pact should be excluded from the single currency, Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager said Thursday.

"If a country doesn't want to comply with the requirements, then there is no other option than to leave it (the eurozone), De Jager said at a press conference in The Hague, but adding then only as a "last resort."

The Dutch minister not only argued for countries to choose in future to drop out of the eurozone if failing to live up to the stability pact, but also for EU treaties to be changed allowing other eurozone members to exclude those who bend the rules, his spokeswoman Simone Boitelle said.

"It's not a measure for now, it's for the long-term, for the future," she told AFP, stressing that changing EU treaties would take time.

Dutch liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte called on Wednesday for an independent European commissioner to ensure countries stayed in line with the stability pact's rules, including through imposing sanctions.

Rutte mooted measures to include a reduction of European funding and a "loss in voting rights" against non-compliant countries, adding as a last resort countries should have the choice of dropping out of the eurozone.

"If you can't stick to rules, you have to leave the game," said De Jager.

Creating a commissioner, he added, did not require modification of EU treaties which was why the Dutch offered the suggestion, as opposed to setting up a new European Commission body "which would take more time."

He said: "We will make the eurozone much stronger ... much more than by increasing the stability fund or introducing eurobonds."

The Dutch proposal had been welcomed by both German and Finnish counterparts, whom he met in Berlin on Tuesday, De Jager stressed.

© 2011 AFP

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